Web Site Programming Questions

I have two questions on web site programming for anyone who can help me:

  1. How do I set up a web site so that anonymous users can create user accounts? I want to have a page where people can go and register their name and a password and logon anytime to retrieve information about their account and use the website. (Similar to the HSW forums)

  2. Similarly, I how do I create a form where a user can enter their name “Joe”, click submit, and the next page displays, “Hello Joe” and then stores the users name on the server so that in the future when Joe visits the page it will say “Hello Joe” as long as he doesn’t delete his cookies?

I am not sure what you want it for, but vBB does all this stuff for you already.

What is VBB? Can you provide some more information or a link?

vBB is the program that runs this forum. It stands for vBulletin Board. I don’t think that’s what you wanted, is it?

I’m really looking to build a web site similar to this web site: Nation States

Have you any experience with perl or PHP programming? If not, I can find a couple ready-made login and registration forms you can use. You’ll need to have a site hosted on a server that supports perl or PHP, though.

I have heard of PHP but I do not have any experience with it. I think it works with HTML which I do know a lot about. If you don’t mind, see if you can find those examples.

In very broad strokes, you need several things:

  1. Dynamic server-side code which can process user requests instead of just displaying static HTML. This could be ASP, PHP, JSP/servlet, CGI, etc. It could be written in Perl, VBScript, Javascript, Java, etc. The choice of which platform and language you use will dictate the specific techniques you use.

  2. A server-side database to store user information. You’re not going to create an actual user account on the server. You’re going to create a database of website users, and when a person logs in, you’ll compare their user/pass to the ones stored in the db.

  3. Personalization features such as displaying a returning user’s name on the site are simple features of most server-side platforms. They use cookies and session variables to handle this fairly easily, but the specifics will depend on your answer to question #1.

Since you’re asking the question, it’s fair to assume you have no experience with the different schemes in #1 above. Do you have a server you want to use or do you have resources available that would weight that choice? If you’re not a programmer and don’t want to use a canned system like vBB, you need to pick a language and start learning. Holy wars have been fought over which language is better, but the distinctions are really pretty minor and all of the ones mentioned above (and others) will do what you want. There are also a lot of generic systems for handling various functionality which wouldn’t require you to start from scratch.

PHP, ASP and JSP are all ways of combining server-side code with more static elements on a page. For instance, you can write a static HTML page and then embed minor bits of code to handle your personalization. You could also write pages entirely generated by code with no static elements. There is very little difference in the capabilities of any of these. PHP is both a language and a platform and provides a powerful Perl-like syntax. ASP is a server platform which handles a variety of languages (VBScript, Perlscript, Javascript…). JSP uses Java. They all provide convenient object-oriented syntax for mantaining sessions, reading form inputs, etc.


That should get you started.

If your server supports it, you can try out the iBuySpy portal for ASP.Net (see www.ibuyspy.com). It’s pretty ready out of the box (FREE box) and from what i’ve read on the forums there most of the people using it aren’t really seasoned veterans when it comes to programming or even HTML. You can program it using C# or VBScript.

Lots of people here are now going to hem and haw over my suggestion, but this is just one of MANY free portals available in several different programming languages. I just thought i’d suggest it since you’re starting from square one and .net is fairly new and exciting and this portal is very easy to set up.

Look on the web for “free portal” and you will find many more.